8. Turkmenistan holds some of the strangest world records.
Some examples include: the world’s largest indoor ferris wheel, the longest staircase in the world, the largest man made canal and and largest man-made lake, the most marble used in a single city (in order to make this happen they are also the world’s largest importer of Italian marble), and the largest building in the shape of a star… just to name a few.
7. Turkmenistan is the only country in Central Asia where you can’t get some horse to eat.
Horses are revered as national heroes and even appear on the national emblem. The horse on the national emblem is not a generic horse, but a real living horse. When the previous national emblem died, a new horse was chosen and the emblem updated with the new horse. This means, of course, everything with the national emblem on it had to be replaced.
6. In Turkmenistan petrol is extremely cheap and motorists are given a free allowance per month.
Gas for the home is also free. Because of this, people will leave their stoves on 24 hours a day as matches cost money. Turkmenistan has the second largest gas reserve in the world – one of the reasons why the ‘Gates of Hell’ have been allowed to continue burning for 45 years.
5. The previous President Turkmenbashy closed all hospitals and libraries outside of the capital, Ashgabat.
Thus, citizens had to travel all the way to Ashgabat in order to use these facilities. The current President has since reopened these facilities outside of the capital.
4. Turkmenistan also holds the records for the largest carpet and the largest carpet in the shape of a star.
So deep is the Turkmen infatuation with carpets that they also have the only flag in the world with a carpet on it.
3. In 2017 Ashgabat is hosting the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, and have spent as much on the state-of-the-art Olympic standard sports village as Rio De Janeiro have on their entire Olympic games.
The sports village includes housing for athletes, huge stadiums, multi purpose venues, and even a monorail to transport spectators to the different venues. We are excitedly awaiting confirmation of the event schedule to organise a tour to this spectacular event.
2. Turkmenistan is the only officially neutral country in the world.
While countries like Switzerland and Sweden have rather neutral foreign policies, Turkmenistan is the only country which is officially recognised by the United Nations as neutral. In celebration of this an olive branch was added to the flag—very similar to the symbol on the UN flag—and the Arch of Neutrality was built. The Arch of Neutrality is topped by a gold statue of the former President for Life, Turkmenbashy, and once rotated so it was constantly facing the sun, however that feature has now been turned off.
1. Turkmenistan receives less foreign travellers each year than almost any other country in the world—including North Korea.
The number of visas issued to travellers stays in four digits per year, making Turkmenistan one of the top 10 least visited countries on earth. Last year the country only had around 5,000 foreign visitors.